During the days of Hanukkah, there does seem to be a certain scent in the air. My kitchen, probably like yours, has the omnipresent fragrance of fried foods, since cooking with oil commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple and the miracle of a one-day supply of oil lasting eight days.
This year I’ll be frying up sweet potato latkes and sufganiyot (Israeli jelly doughnuts).
Try serving the latkes with the cranberry applesauce from my last column. The sufganiyot recipe has been adapted to be made by hand; if you have a heavy-duty stand mixer, use the paddle blade to mix and the dough hook to knead.
Both recipes are from Emily Paster’s “The Joys of Jewish Preserving,” but I have edited them to reflect my experience making them (and for space limitations).
Emily Paster’s Sweet Potato Latkes
Makes 16 latkes
1¼ lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground allspice
⅛ tsp. cayenne (ground red pepper)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 Tbs. vegetable or other neutral oil
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil. Coarsely grate sweet potatoes into a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cayenne. Sprinkle this mixture over potatoes and mix in egg until well combined.
Heat oil over high heat in large skillet. When oil is sizzling, reduce heat to medium-high. Scoop ¼ cup potatoes into the skillet. Flatten with a spatula. Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding pan. Flip when underside is browned, about 2 minutes. Cook another 1½–2 minutes to brown other side. Drain on paper towels if desired. Keep warm in oven on prepared tray.
Emily Paster’s Sufganiyot
Makes 12-14 doughnuts
2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
½ cup milk, warm
¼ cup sugar, divided
2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra
⅛ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. butter, softened
12 oz. jam
About 64 oz. vegetable oil
Mix yeast, milk and a pinch of sugar together in a small bowl. Let rest until foamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ¼ cup of sugar (minus the pinch), salt and cinnamon. Add yeast mixture and beat vigorously, adding eggs one at a time and then vanilla and then butter. Continue to mix (using hands if necessary) until dough forms. Knead on floured board until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Place dough in oiled bowl. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour. Punch down dough and turn out on floured board. Roll out until it is ¼–½-inch thick. If dough springs back, allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut out as many circles as possible. Roll out scraps, Cut again. You should have 12 to 14 rounds. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with clean towel. Let rise for 30 minutes.
Heat several inches of oil in wide, deep, heavy saucepan until it reaches 360 degrees on a candy thermometer. Make sure temperature stays constant. Add 4 doughnuts to hot oil. Flip after 1 minute. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes total. Drain on paper towels. Repeat.
When cool, poke a hole in one end with a skewer, moving it around to create a pocket. If jam is very thick, stir to loosen. Using a piping bag with a ¼-inch tip, pipe jam into the hole just until it starts to spill out. Repeat. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.